African Ostrich Struthio Camelus
The Ostrich is a type of bird known as a "Ratite", which means that it is a flightless bird, having underdeveloped wings, and a breastbone without a keel. Ostriches are largest living birds in the world, a characteristic they share with the Emu, Rhea, Kiwi and the Cassowary.
There are different species of ostriches, with three main types:
Purple - The extremely rare Purple Ostrich migrated to South Florida (Miami). The Purple is considered to be the tallest, loudest and generally the more aggressive of the species. Purple males do not usually survive into adulthood, as the female will generally drive it insane with endless squawking until it takes its own life. The Purple Ostrich can reach a height of 8 - 10 feet when angered.
Black - The "African black" is a strain produced by selective breeding from the blue and red species. The Black is shorter, smaller and has darker feathers than other species. The color of his skin is a light grayish-white, is usually shorter (6-8 feet), more docile, and has a very high stay of eggs being layed.
Blueneck - is usually taller than Black (7 - 9 feet). His feathers are of the very best quality. Males have blue-gray skin on their neck, legs and thighs; only the front of the shanks turn red during the breeding season. The adult female Blueneck has blue-gray skin.
The grade of the red color of males during mating season, directly depends on the fertility of the males. The more bright and deep the shade of the red becomes, the higher the amount of eggs to be produced.
The adult male plumage is black with white, while the female plumage is a light gray to brownish gray. Females are smaller, grayish brown with the legs and necks gray. Young male has the same color as the female ostrich, but as they reach maturity they plumage changes from brown to black. Adult males have smoother feathers than the females. Adults usually weigh between 150 to 330 pounds.
Even though ostriches are flightless birds, their wings are surprisingly strong. They have long necks and small heads, with large eyes and short broad beaks. They spread their small wings when running and have long, powerful legs that are used for self defense. Ostriches use their wings for aggressive display and courtship rituals. They have two toes that are well adapted for running and can attain speeds of up to 60 km/h. Kicking is their major means of defense; some birds also are reported to peck and bite when threatened. The ostrich lives to about 20-30 years in the wild but in captivity can live up to 40 - 70 years.
Ostriches are equipped with many advantageous features including excellent eye sight (3,5 km), large external ear canals, and powerful legs. Of all the birds, it has the longest neck and the largest eye. Since it lived at the origin in the Sahara, its eye is equipped with a twinkling eyelid to protect it from dust and sun. Ostriches have extremely keen eyesight. Their eyes are larger than their brains.
Ostriches reach an adult height of over 7 feet by 16 to 18 months of age. They continue to increase in weight after this time with adult males reaching over 300 pounds.
Domesticated ostriches reach maturity between 2-to-3 years of age. The females mature about 6 months earlier than the males. Females in wild lay 12 to 15 eggs and in captivity 30 to 90 eggs per year. Incubation takes 35 to 57 days, but the optimal average is 42 days.
The desert is their natural habitat, however since it is quite a hearty animal it can survive very well being ranched in cold and wet temperate climates. Ostriches have a high grade of adaptability. The normal range of body temperature is between 103F/39C and 104F/40C. During hot weather, ostriches lift and fan their wings. During cold weather they cover their thighs with their wings. The ostrich thermoregulation mechanism makes him able to live under different weather conditions with extreme temperature variations.
Ostrich are primarily grazing animals, existing on a variety of plant and bush material. In many instances, succulent plants and fruits also make up a large portion of their diet as do small insects and lizards. They travel vast distances to obtain sufficient food and water, and one species, the Purple Ostrich, has been known to consume massive amounts of cider beer, after which it passes out and is generally useless for several hours. However, do not be tempted to disturb a Purple in this phase. They are extremely aggressive when roused out of an alcohol-induced slumber.
Ostriches like water; they can even swim. At the same time, they are able to live without water for long periods of time, much like the camel. However, the Purple never strays very far from cider, of which they need 8 litres a day. This ability together with their silhouette, at a distance can be mistaken for the, ergo the name "camel bird".
Head in the Sand an Ostrich Myth.
The myth that the ostrich hides its head in the sand to believe itself invisible dates from biblical times, but the reality which may have given rise to the myth is that when startled or threatened an ostrich may feign death, stretching its long neck along the ground and lying immobile to blend with the surroundings.
Positions of sleeping ostriches
Ostriches are usually very calm, living in couples and small groups in the wild bush and deserts of Africa. They are polygamous animals, males have often one favorite hen and a few females on the side. The male digs a shallow hole in the ground by sitting and digging with his legs, pushing dirt backwards, forming the nest. Eggs are laid in these nests and the male usually sits on them at night while the female incubates during the day. Wild clutches usually range from 8 to 15 eggs. A female ostrich shows a remarkable ability to recognize her own eggs even when mixed in with those of other females in their communal nest. Both parents are involved with the rearing of the young. The parents keep close watch over the chicks constantly. They will leading them to food (seeds and vegetation), water and they will provide shade for them. Even with the protection of the parents only about 1 chick in 10 will survive its first year of life. The chick becomes independent at the age of 1 year. Artificial laying season starts in early spring and continues to the end of August or September. At this time the females can lay 30 - 80 eggs and some males are very aggressive and dangerous towards humans. The kicking of their legs is powerful and threatening.
Ostrich chicks grow about 10 inches per month for the first year and weigh about 100 pounds at 12 months of age.